Ideal Freshwater Aquarium Plants

Ideal Freshwater Aquarium Plants

For all aquarists, freshwater aquarium plants are an essential part of your tank, and not just because they make it look nice and give your shrimp and fish a good place to hide. Live aquarium plants also do some very important work – they keep the tank clean, oxygenate the water, and maintain the correct pH balance in the water.

If you’ve never looked at a planted tank before, you’d probably be surprised at just how vibrant and lively the aquarium seems to be.

You need plants in your aquarium, but which live aquarium plants do you choose? Some plants can be very difficult to care for, requiring the right degree of light and special care to stay alive, while others can be very easy to look after. Simply plant them in the tank and forget all about them.

So let’s take a look at some of the most common freshwater aquarium plants and see what we need to do to care for them.

1. Java Moss

Ideal Freshwater Aquarium Plants For Your Shrimp
Java Moss

Moss provides a natural, aging look and can give life to a bare and plain tank.
Java moss is relatively easy to install, grow and maintain and it’s almost impossible to kill it. It will attach itself to many different surfaces including gravel, driftwood, rocks and commercial decorations. It’s a delicate moss which has irregular small branched stems. The stems are covered in tiny, 2mm long oval-shaped leaves which overlap.

Java moss that grows under water has bright green leaves that are much smaller than the leaves that grow on land.

2 .Java Fern

Ideal Freshwater Aquarium Plants Ideal Freshwater Aquarium Plants
Java Fern

Similar to Java moss, the Java fern is another freshwater aquarium plant that is popular with shrimp.

The Java Fern, scientifically known as Microsorum pteropus, is a very popular live aquarium plant from South East Asia that is available in many varieties. The most popular are the lance leaf, needle leaf, narrow leaf, or Windelov.
This plant is one of the easiest to grow in most tanks and will quickly spread like a weed if kept in good conditions. Of course, moving it around and/or replanting it will slow the growth process for a while, but in a few weeks it should be back in shape and reach over a foot tall and 6 inches wide.

3. Anubias & Anubias Nana

Ideal Freshwater Aquarium Plants
Anubinas & Anubinas Nana

These freshwater aquarium plants are probably the most common plants for aquarists.
Anubias barteri var. nana is a small, attractive plant which thrives in all conditions. It originates from Cameroon and will reach 5-10 cm height. The rhizome will be 10-15 cm or more. It grows slowly, and the leaves survive for several years, giving slow-growing algae the chance to become established. The best result is achieved by planting on a stone or tree root. Fishing line can be used to attach the plant until it gains a hold. If planted on the bottom the rhizome must not be covered because it tends to rot. It flowers frequently under water. It is not eaten by herbivorous fish. 

4. Cryptocorynes

Ideal Freshwater Aquarium Plants

Most cryptocorynes can be grown simply in potting soil.  One of my blackwater mixes uses a 1:1 ratio of coarse river sand and potting mix.  For some of the clearwater species I use a 2:1 sand/gravel and potting mix.  I either make my own potting mix or buy Miracle Gro with the slow release fertilizer in it. If I make my own potting mix I add some slow release granules in a balanced 10-10-10 formula.  There are clear water streams and there are blackwater streams where cryptocorynes are found and I mix my substrate accordingly to better suit their growing requirements.

5. Dwarf Lilies

Ideal Freshwater Aquarium Plants
Dwarf lilies

Lilies and lily-like plants can grow quickly when provided optimal conditions. In general, these plants will benefit from the use of strong lighting and supplemental dissolved carbon dioxide. Aquarium lilies and lily-like plants will reward the hobbyist with noticeably larger leaves soon after these essential improvements have been made.

6. Vallisneria

Ideal Freshwater Aquarium Plants

Due to the heights it can reach, Vallisneria is mostly a background plant and can be placed at the back of to the sides of your aquarium. Planting is pretty straightforward: just stick your Vallisneria into the substrate and, if it already has extensive root systems, be sure to cover those as well without burying them completely. Extra iron is really appreciated by this plant and you may want to stick a few root tabs in the substrate nearby while planting.

7. water wisteria

Ideal Freshwater Aquarium Plants
water wisteria

The Wisteria, also known as the Water Wisteria, is an undemanding, extremely attractive aquarium plant. The lace-like leaves vary in appearance under different conditions. If the water is colder, they will be small, and lobed in appearance, instead of pinnate. If insufficient light is provided, they will only be slightly pinnate.
The Wisteria is an excellent plant for the new aquarist or for the newly set-up aquarium. It requires a nutrient-rich substrate, with iron-rich fertilizer added regularly. Provide a moderate amount of lighting of at least 2 to 3 watts per gallon of full spectrum (5000-7000K) light. CO2 fertilization is also recommended.

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